Coillte’s proposal for a wind farm in Co Carlow’s Blackstairs mountains will come back before planners after An Bord Pleanála decided to concede in a High Court challenge to its previous decision to refuse permission.
Futurenergy, a joint venture between the State-owned Coillte and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), claimed the board’s decision to refuse permission for the seven-turbine development at Croaghaun Hill was “invalid” due to several alleged errors.
The proposal for seven turbines measuring 583 feet met fierce local opposition and was first refused by Carlow County Council and then by An Bord Pleanála on appeal.
Futurenergy sought judicial review from the High Court, which this week was told the board was consenting to an order overturning its refusal.
Stephen Dodd SC, with John Kenny, for Futurenergy, said the board was also agreeing to consider the application afresh.
Mr Justice Richard Humphreys congratulated the parties and made the orders sought.
Carlow County Council had received more than 280 third-party submissions over the 38.5MW wind farm plan.
Futurenergy appealed to An Bord Pleanála as a first party, while third-party appeals were lodged by the Irish Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association, the Save Mount Leinster group and three individuals asking that the grounds for refusal be strengthened. The board received a total of 141 observations.
An Bord Pleanála ruled the wind farm proposed for a 246-hectare site should be refused as it contravened the Carlow county development plan. It said the proposed site was within the designated Blackstairs and Mount Leinster uplands landscape character area, where wind farm development would not normally be permitted.
Among Futurenergy’s claims before the High Court was that the board relied on a new iteration of the Carlow development plan that came into force after this planning application and that it did not comply with a section of the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act of 2015.
Futurenergy also alleged irrelevant matters were taken into account in refusing the project.
The basis for An Bord Pleanála’s concession was not disclosed to the court.
Coillte was set to pay €5 million into a community fund over 35 years as part of the project. It said its project would power 25,500 homes each year.